“The efficient production of as much good content as possible is the key to digital success”
Dr. Huber, the multicom and Gogol Publishing Group offers a suite for digital publishing, multi-channel editorial systems for newspapers, corporate publishers, special interest publishing houses and freesheet publishers. Which of your target groups generated a greater demand in the last year, or how have the customer segments shifted positions? What are currently your customers most frequent needs?
Undoubtedly the most important development in the last years is that, together with our customers, we have developed a suite for digital publishing. With this system, for example, our customer Die Rheinpfalz already today reaches 35,000 paying subscribers with its digital offering. We are experiencing a very strong demand in this area that we are already in the process of satisfying in many customer projects. But there are also developments in the corporate publishing sector. What we are seeing here is a strong demand for tools for the central control of corporate communication – covering multiple locations and without language barriers. Thus, for example, one of our corporate publishing customers uses our solution to produce more than 600 in-house magazines, product brochures as well as other publications in the corporate network – seamlessly through a single interface: from topic identification and graphic processing, up to publication.
What do local newspapers need for a successful online strategy? Do you have a concrete example for this?
Experiences of digitally successful publishers show that the key to success in the digital sector is the efficient production of as much good content as possible, because the more content digital subscribers read, the fewer subscribers will be lost. In this connection it is necessary to identify the topics that are of interest to subscribers and that lead to concrete conversions. These stories must be told in such a way that makes them a pleasure to read. That is exactly what our suite for digital publishing supports: the efficient creation of digitally successful stories.
In the last years, one of our customers, within the framework of a conversion to a Digital-First workflow, carried out comprehensive analyses of its editorial contents. This enabled our customer to identify the topics that were most read and that led to the most conversions, so that it was possible to focus on these topics – incidentally, these turned out to be mostly local topics. As a result of this conversion, the customer succeeded in increasing the number of unique visitors by 150 percent within one year.
Is mobile paid content the future for smaller publishers? What are the difficulties and what form could successful strategies take?
The mechanisms of action for a successful digital strategy are by now sufficiently well known. What is genuinely difficult for many companies is the management of the cultural transformation that accompanies an orientation towards Digital First. Besides this, especially smaller publishers are confronted by the challenge arising from the technological and conceptual complexity. Our group supports these publishing houses with an efficient and reliable plug-and-play solution. All important functions from our experience with more than 600 newspapers and freesheets can be used directly and are stored, always up-to-date, in the system.
What part does E-Paper play in publishers' portfolios?
According to our this year's local newspaper study that involved 200 newspapers, the average share of E-Paper in sold circulation is about 7 percent. In the case of the ten publishing companies that collectively have the highest E-Paper share, this value is approximately 23 percent – therefore potential for development still exists.
Overall the market for E-Paper has grown rapidly in recent years and will undoubtedly continue to do so for some more years. However, E-Paper tends to appeal more to middle-aged and older users. In contrast, younger persons, between the ages of 17 to 41 years, prefer the offerings for paid news on the online portals of newspapers. Consequently, E-Paper can only be a part of a successful paid content strategy.
To what extent do publishers already make full use of the potential of analysis data?
According to a survey conducted among decision-makers in the newspaper industry, some 90 percent of the publishing houses we approached work with an editorial analytics tool. However, analysed data is frequently used only superficially and not evaluated at the correct places. For example, only 40 percent of the authors know how their contents function. There is a major potential lying unused here.
But action-oriented and simple-to-understand feedback is essential for attracting readers and retaining their loyalty in the long term. Ideally, the data gathered in analyses is integrated directly into the system so that it can provide guiding impulses for each step in content production.
To what degree can your customers, for example freesheets, achieve high revenues also in the digital age? What is the precondition for this to succeed?
Several pioneers in the industry already generate high digital revenues, including our customer, News Verlag, with an online revenue share of about 11 percent. Decisive factors here are innovative native advertising formats offering readers a genuine added value and leading to greater interaction. With this in mind, we develop new, future-oriented formats together with our customers: the objective being to create an ecological system for the native advertising of local businesses, or also to enable the sponsoring of individual articles or topics aimed at precisely defined target groups.
What are the pros and cons of cooperating more closely with other publishers? To what extent are you aware of concrete cooperation projects?
Digitisation is confronting all publishers with similar challenges. A lively exchange between customers about what works and what does not is an essential precondition for overcoming these challenges. Already today this is a part of our corporate philosophy. Various formats, such as our Customer Days and the Publishing Days, support this know-how transfer. Especially local media, due to their geographically limited markets, have no disadvantages from this – the exchange is a win-win situation.
To what extent can your findings be applied also to international publishers outside the so-called DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)?
The digital transformation not only effects Germany, it is rather a global phenomenon. Topics such as the decline of print or acquiring new sources of revenue concern publishers beyond national borders. I would be more inclined to say that we in Germany can learn a lot from the experiences of publishers in Scandinavia, USA or Latin America who are several steps ahead of us in the digitisation sector. The basic mechanisms are everywhere the same: it is a matter of discovering which contents the paying reader uses behind the paywall and which trigger the conversion.
In Germany, we are in the process of creating new, future-oriented approaches towards the digital transformation especially in the hyperlocal area. Two projects promoted by the Digital News Innovation Fund, within the framework of which we are at present developing a tool, also support users without journalistic training by automated text production for the creation of sub-local contents. Furthermore, we are developing new forms of native advertising in order to monetise also these contents.
You are once again an exhibitor at the DCX Digital Content Expo. Why are you coming again? What value does DCX have for multicom and Gogol Publishing?
The IFRA and DCX Expo event has been a firm fixture in our calender for years. To date, it has offered us a platform for conducting good discussions with customers and other publishers. We have always had fully booked appointment schedules on all exhibition days. At the same time we gain valuable market impulses from the event.
In your view, what makes a visit worthwhile for publishers as well as delegates from other companies?
Compared to other industry events – especially the also very intensive conference formats – visitors at the IFRA/DCX genuinely have the possibility to engage in in-depth and long discussions as well as to participate in detailed product demonstrations. Conferences seldom allow time for this. Therefore it makes sense for publishers also to attend IFRA, as by doing so within a short space of time they can obtain a good overview of various suppliers as well as the latest products relevant to publishing offered on the market.
Dr. Martin Huber
Managing Director, multicom and Gogol Publishing
Tel +49 821 / 907 844-17